EXC5: Quality and breadth of the research to be enabled
The applicants must articulate an overall vision for the requested equipment and provide details of the novel science enabled by the equipment. It should be clearly stated where the capability of the equipment could lead to new science, taking into consideration the key scientific questions and research that the applicants and user base cannot currently achieve with existing equipment.
The expected outputs from the research enabled by the equipment should result in a significant step change, with major impact on the research area beyond the immediate team, and appreciably raise the UK’s international profile.
Please comment on the quality and breadth of the engineering and physical sciences research that the requested equipment will enable, making reference to:
- the novelty, timeliness and relevance to identified stakeholders including users
- the transformative aspects or potential outcomes that will be enabled
- the suitability of the proposed methodology and the appropriateness of the approach to achieving impact.
(For multidisciplinary proposals, please state which aspects of the proposal you feel qualified to assess.)
IMP4: Strategic importance
Secondary major criterion
Applicants should present evidence that the requested equipment is strategically important to and will benefit a diverse user base. A discussion should be provided setting out how the infrastructure fits into the regional and national landscape of similar equipment. The applicant should articulate the university’s strategy for capital investment and how the requested equipment aligns to this vision.
Please comment on the strength of the strategic case made in terms of both national and institutional needs, making reference to how the equipment sought:
- meets national needs by establishing or maintaining a unique or world leading activity
- complements and enhances regional or national research capability, including relationships to the EPSRC equipment and research portfolio.
Please comment on the appropriateness of:
- the evidence of strong demand and community needs from a diverse and inclusive user base
- the proposed alternative approaches to how the research would be achieved should the equipment not be funded.
APP12: Applicant and host institution
The applicant should provide details to demonstrate that the team has the appropriate skills to procure and manage the requested equipment. The applicant should also articulate why the institution is appropriate to host the equipment, including the added value from existing equipment, technical support or infrastructure.
Please comment on the applicant’s ability to effectively operate the requested equipment, making reference to:
- the appropriateness of the track record of the applicant
- the balance of skills of the team, including collaborators
- why the host institution provides the most appropriate location and how use of existing inventory is effectively complemented.
MAN4: Management of the Equipment
You are asked to comment on the arrangements for managing the proposed equipment. These should be proportionate to the scale and complexity of the activity to be undertaken. In addition to the more general management issues you should also comment on the effectiveness of the operational arrangements for the proposed equipment.
The reviewer form asks reviewers to comment on the effectiveness of the proposed planning and management, making reference to:
- the workplan and associated risks
- plans for prioritising access and maximising usage of the equipment.
Applicants are required to identify on the application form all resources required to undertake the project, and to clearly explain the need for these in the justification of resources appended to the case for support. You should comment on how well this has been done, on the appropriateness of the resources requested, and on how sensible and justified the quoted equipment costs are. You should draw attention to anything in your view that has been requested but not justified or, conversely, needed but not identified. With the exception of the equipment quotes, your assessment should be based on the resources sought and not on the costs derived from them.
Please comment on whether the requested equipment and resources are appropriate and have been fully justified, making reference to:
- the appropriateness and justification of costs for the equipment
- the appropriateness and justification of resource costs (such as staff and maintenance)
- the appropriateness of any contributions from the host and any collaborators
- any resources requested for activities to expand the user base, increase impact, for public engagement or to support responsible innovation.
Secondary major criterion
The applicant should articulate appropriate plans for ensuring the future sustainability of the infrastructure. Plans should cover all aspects of sustainability including staff and the user base, not just that of the equipment.
Please comment on the appropriateness of the proposed plans towards making the equipment or facility sustainable. Consider how realistic the plans are for:
- the recovery of running costs (maintenance, repairs, consumables, staff time) during and beyond the lifetime of the grant
- the appropriateness of the charging model
- the support and development of the specialist technical staff beyond the lifetime of the grant period
- sustaining and evolving a diverse and inclusive user base beyond the lifetime of the grant and any ‘free at point of access’ period.
ASS2: Overall assessment – part assessment
It may be that you feel you can only comment with authority on a specific part or component of an application, for example with a multidisciplinary project, or perhaps where there is a strong user-led element. In that case you should identify those aspects that you are able to comment on, and then give your review on just those aspects. Different reviewers will have been asked to cover those aspects you cannot, and the panel will then have the job of integrating these different comments. It is particularly important therefore that the panel have clear advice on the merits of each component. Your comments, scores and confidence level should explicitly reflect your views on those aspects you can assess, and you are asked not to moderate these in any way to reflect those areas you feel you cannot comment on.
A risk with part assessment is that it will miss the added value of the overall project (the whole ideally being greater than the sum of the parts) so even where you can only comment with authority on one aspect, it will be helpful to the panel to have your views on how compelling the arguments for the overall application are. Other issues you might also comment on are the uniqueness (or otherwise) of the collaboration, the value of the contribution of the component you can judge, and the significance of this in terms of future potential development in your own field.
ASS3: Overall assessment – overall score
You should assign a score using the six-point scale provided. This should reflect your overall conclusion, and should be consistent with your comments on the individual sections of your review, taking account of all the assessment criteria and the various weightings you applied.
The six levels of the scoring scale are as follows.
- This application is scientifically or technically flawed
- This application does not meet one or more of the assessment criteria
- This application meets all assessment criteria but with clear weaknesses
- This is a good application that meets all assessment criteria but with minor weaknesses
- This is a strong application that broadly meets all assessment criteria
- This is a very strong application that fully meets all assessment criteria.
ASS4: Level of confidence
To assist the prioritisation panel in reaching their overall conclusion on the application, and to help EPSRC in monitoring the effectiveness of its reviewer selection procedures, you are asked to indicate your confidence in your review. This should report your own confidence, or otherwise, in being able to make your assessment rather than your confidence in the success of the application if it were funded. If, for any reason, you feel that you are not able to assess the application, please advise EPSRC accordingly.
The reviewer form asks reviewers to score their confidence as low, medium or high.
ASS6: Overall assessment
You should provide your overall assessment of the application. Think of this as your report to the prioritisation panel, highlighting the strengths and weaknesses you identified in the individual questions and then making a clear and explicit recommendation about whether or not you believe the application warrants funding.
Not all questions carry equal weighting. Research quality (excellence) will always be pre-eminent, and no application can be funded without clearly demonstrating this aspect. Strategic importance and sustainability should also be major considerations in making your assessment. The weighting between the remaining aspects will depend on the specific nature of the particular application. You should indicate those aspects that you accorded higher or lower priority and why.
The reviewer form asks reviewers to summarise their view of the application.
Last updated: 15 June 2023